Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Empty Vessel

I stare down from the bridge into the water watching it shine in the darkness below me. The street lights cast enough of a glow that I can see my reflection. I look at myself looking into the water and I do not appear any different to how I have always done. It is just my insides that have altered.

I had not suspected the evening would have so much of an impact on me. There were many things I was expecting to feel, but this was not it. For instance I knew that it would be awkward to see him again after all of this time - and it had been. I weirdly enjoy the strangeness we share when we are together. Even now that I do not love him I still adore being in his company, the odd moments when we touched thrilled me, the conversations we had will be replayed in my head for days.

I did not mean to come down to the river so late on my own. It wasn't until I had left him that I thought of visiting this spot. He will never know it but this place is very important to us.

A car drives over the bridge, its headlights bring me harshly into view for a few seconds. I feel exposed. I do not want to be alone in the spotlight, I want to be embraced by the night, I want to stay hidden.

There is nowhere but the riverbank to go if I do not want to be seen. Once I am down next to the water the only thing I can hear is my heart beating. I forget how loud it gets these days now that my chest is empty, my body a hollow cave where once it was filled with love for him.

It is not that I do not still have those feelings, it is just that I no longer carry them with me constantly. It was too painful to have that burden with me wherever I went, it is much easier to know that they still exist but are stored elsewhere.

I cannot remember the exact date that I chose to be this empty vessel. Which is strange as every other moment connected to him, no matter how insignificant, remains clear in my thoughts.

Whenever it was, that day was the same as all of the others days had been since I met him, I thought of him and nothing else from the moment I woke. The pain that I did not have some concrete sign that he loved me too was too much to bear. I could not have him in my life and feel this way anymore.

And so I stored my feelings neatly away in a box. I could not trust myself to be able to access them and so I tied a chain around it and locking it into position before throwing away the key. Within hours I would have been picking that lock and so I had to get rid of it completely. I came down to the bridge and flung it into the murky water. Instead of floating away and eventually finding itself at sea, the box splashed and sunk to the depths of the river.

I wanted the feelings to vanish yet I know that they remain on the riverbed, they are not as far out of reach as I need them to be. If I took off my clothes and dived to the bottom of the river I could touch the box, rescue it from lying there. Its chain will have rusted in the months that have passed but what is inside will not have rotted.

My heart races quicker in anticipation of being so close to what I want back so badly. I move closer to the water's edge, in the darkness I cannot tell how deep the water is. I sit on the cold ground and take off my boots and socks before plunging my feet into the water. It is chilly but not unbearable. I think I could manage to submerge myself in the water for the few minutes it would take to do what I have to do. If it were light I would not be able to do this, the daytime would show how dirty and dank the water is. But I cannot see anything except refracted light and waves.

I am suddenly aware of someone lurking behind me, I scramble to get out of the water and have just finished gathering my things when the tramp emerges from the shadows. He mutters something, he is still several feet away from me but I can smell the booze he reeks of, I mumble words in response and walk quickly back into the light.

Crossing the bridge to make my way home I look down onto the water but do not let my eyes linger at the spot where the box lies.

The chain will rust, moss will grow over the box and I shall remain hollow.

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